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Joey Tate goes undefeated to win July 4th weekend stop on the Carolina Pool Tour

Joey Tate

North Carolina’s Joey Tate is right on the verge of making his age an irrelevant fact. He turned 17 less than a month ago (June 28) and he’s in the midst of recording his best earnings year since he started showing up on AZBilliards’ database in 2017 at the age of 12. It could well be that his competitors over these past five years are growing tired of hearing that he’s a junior competitor, especially after he’s defeated one of them in a major event. This past July 4th weekend, he joined 32 other entrants at a $1,000-added stop on the Carolina Pool Tour (in collaboration with the Players Madness Tour) at Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC and went undefeated to the finish line, defeating perennial North Carolina State Champion Mike Davis, Jr. in the finals.

As the Billiards Education Foundation’s 2022 Junior National Champion in the 18 & Under Boys Division, which is only the most recent of his accomplishments since he was a 7th grader, Tate brings to his forays into the ‘real world’ of regional tour competition, a sense of confidence, tempered by an awareness about the dangers of overconfidence.

“When you win,” he said after this past weekend’s victory, “you can get caught up in it, to the point of arrogance; not like in how you behave, but an arrogance in your own mind.”

“You still have to stay humble and hungry,” he added. 

He pointed to separate influences on him, which keep him in that ‘humble and hungry’ mode; his Christian faith, which grants him the opportunity to be, among other things, thankful for the victories, as well as his own experiences at the table and his observations of the top professionals.

“Through experience,” he said, “you can catch the thoughts that trigger arrogance and block them out. And watching pro players when they’re playing their best; you can see how focused they are and how clean their shots are.

“So,” he added, “it’s really about a combination of those things.”

Tate had his ‘hungry and humble’ hands full from the outset. He opened his six-match march to the win against Michael Yingling, who promptly battled him to double hill. Tate survived, advancing through another junior competitor, Cole Lewis 7-3, then, Adam Pendley 7-4 and in a winners’ side semifinal, in a second double hill fight, he defeated Josh Heeter. Tate advanced to the hot seat match. 

Tate’s eventual hot seat opponent, Cory Morphew, on the other hand, shut out three of the four opponents he faced to get to that match; Reene Driskill in their opening-round match, BJ Ussery in the third round and Chuck Ritchie in the winners’ side semifinal. The only opponent he didn’t shut out was Mike Davis, Jr., who chalked up five against him in their second-round match (33 entrants in the bracket made the opening round of the event a single match). Davis and Morphew would meet again in the semifinals, which, as it turned out, did not go well for Morphew. Neither did the hot seat match, won by Tate 7-4.

On the loss side, Heeter picked up Ussery, who’d followed his loss to Morphew with victories over Bruce Campbell 7-4 and Kelly Farrar 7-2. Ritchie drew Davis, who followed his loss to Morphew with a seven-match, loss-side run to the finals, that had recently eliminated Adam Pendley and Clint Clark, both 7-4.

Davis downed Ritchie 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Ussery, who’d eliminated Heeter, also  7-3. Davis gave up only a single rack to Ussery in those quarterfinals and stepped into his rematch against Morphew in the semifinals. 

Davis downed Morphew 7-3 for a shot at Tate in the hot seat. Tate claimed the event title of Stop #8 on the Carolina Pool Tour with a 7-2 win over Davis.

Co-tour directors Nickolus Rogers and Xzavia Boykin of the Players Madness Tour thanked the ownership and staff at Breaktime Billiards and all of the players who attended the July 4th weekend event.

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Powell, Marcus and Herrell split top three prizes on Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Hank Powell

A decision was made early, prior to the quarterfinals, by hot seat occupant Hank Powell, Orlando Marcus and Matt Harrell. In a mutual desire not to return to Breaktime Billiards in Winston-Salem, NC on Easter Sunday, the three negotiated a payout settlement that didn’t quite end the stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour right away. It did, however, as planned, bring it to an end in the very early morning hours of Sunday, April 17, so that the remaining participants were able to spend that Easter Sunday with their families. The $500-added event drew 41 entrants to Breaktime Billiards. 

Powell and Marcus, who were to become the official winner and runner-up of the event, did meet in the hot seat match. Powell had defeated Matt Harrell 8-2 in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Marcus had sent Daniel Shelton to the loss side 6-5 in the other one (Shelton racing to 7). In the match that was allowed to stand as the definitive match between them, Powell defeated Marcus 8-3.

When Harrell and Shelton arrived on the loss side of the bracket, they entered the first money round of the event, and what became the first two of three matches left. Harrell picked up Eric Stanton, who’d defeated Travis Guerra and 12-year-old Jas Makhani (son of the venue’s owner, Sundeep Makahni), both 6-2. Shelton drew junior competitor Joey Tate, who’d survived a double hill fight against Kelly Farrar (9-6) and eliminated Mark Bolton 9-4

Harrell defeated Stanton 7-2, advancing to the event’s final match. Shelton joined him after downing Tate 7-4. So, there they were, the four combatants, who had comprised the winners’ side final four, still standing, as the quarterfinals went to Marcus 7-5 over Shelton.

The ‘split’ arrangement had been made a while ago, so there was virtually no delay when the final ball in that quarterfinal dropped. Everybody went home for Easter Sunday.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked Sundeep Makahni and his Breaktime Billiards staff for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, Ridge Back Rails, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend, April 23-24, will be a $500-added event, hosted by Break & Run Billiards in Chesnee, SC.    

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Davis, Jr. and Atencio split top two prizes on Player Madness Tour

Mike Davis and Jesus Atencio

With the winner and runner-up of the inaugural Player Madness Tournament series of events in the house, BJ Ussery and Mike Davis, Jr. might have been expected to repeat their dash to the hot seat and finals, but for the second event of the Player Madness Tournaments, held this past weekend (March 5-6), it didn’t turn out that way. Davis did his part, advancing through the field of 71 to go undefeated to the hot seat and finals, but Ussery spent some time on the loss side of the bracket and didn’t make it past the 7/8 matches.  Jesus Atencio, who finished 5th/6th in the inaugural event, was to have faced Davis twice in this one, but they opted out of a final match and split the top two prizes. This second event of the series, called “Tha (sic) Iron Masters Matches” (the first was called “The Invasion of the Triangle”) was a $2,000-added event, hosted by Rockhouse Tavern and Billiards in Gastonia, NC.

Davis advanced through the field to face Atencio the first time in a winners’ side semifinal, as BJ Hucks and Jacob Brooks squared off in the other one.

Davis advanced to the hot seat match 7-5 over Atencio and faced Hucks, who’d sent Brooks to the left bracket 7-4. Davis claimed the hot seat 7-5 over Hucks and for all intents and purposes, his night was over.

On the loss side, Atencio picked up Kevin Hall, who’d recently defeated Kelly Farrar 7-4 and knocked Ussery out 7-3. Brooks drew Brian Francis, who’d eliminated Brian White, double hill and Jimmy Tanner 7-5 to reach him.

Atencio stopped Hall’s loss-side streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Francis, who’d sent Brooks home 7-5. Atencio then dropped Francis 7-5 in those quarterfinals and in what proved to be the event’s last match, the semifinals, defeated Hucks 7-3. Davis and Atencio agreed on the split and joined the rest of the homeward bound.

Tour director Xzavia Boykin thanked the ownership and staff at the Rockhouse for their hospitality, as well as sponsor Classic Billiards. The dates for the next stop on the Player Madness Tournaments series, the NC State 8-Ball Championships, have not been officially set. Visit the Player Madness Tournaments Facebook page for further information.

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Gonzalez goes undefeated to chalk up his first win on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour

Heeter’s loss-side run evokes memories of the late Larry “The Truth” Nevel

Back in November of 2021, Buzzy Gonzalez chalked up his first recorded cash finish anywhere at a stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour at the Gate City Billiards Club in Greensboro, NC.  He finished 5th that weekend, and with no evidence of competition since, this past weekend (Feb. 12-13), he returned to the Gate City Billiards Club, where he recorded his first regional tour victory on the same tour. He was challenged in the finals by Josh Heeter, who lost his opening round match and won 12 on the loss side for the right to meet him in the finals. The event drew 68 entrants to the Gate City Billiards Club.

Heeter’s run through the loss side of the bracket brought eerily relevant memories to tour director Herman Parker (among others), who recalled that the only player to ever win that many matches on the loss side of a Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball event before was the late Larry “The Truth” Nevel, who passed away on February 11, one day before this past weekend’s tournament began.

With Heeter already at work on the loss side, Gonzalez advanced to a winners’ side semifinal versus Jerry Stone. Hank Powell and Daniel Adams squared off in the other one. 

Powell and Adams fought to double hill, before Powell advanced to the hot seat match 8-5 (Adams racing to 6). Gonzalez joined him after shutting Stone out. Gonzalez claimed the hot seat over Powell 7-6.

Heeter had already chalked up nine of his eventual 12 loss-side wins, including recent victories over Justin Ward 9-3 and Gene Parker 9-4. when he ran into Stone, fresh from his defeat at the hands of Gonzalez. Adams picked up Kelly Farrar, who’d eliminated Joe Woo 7-4 and Dakota Ash, double hill (7-4), to reach him.

Heeter chalked up loss-side win #10, 9-2 over Stone. Adams joined him in the quarterfinals following his 6-6, double hill win over Farrar. Heeter then downed Adams 9-4 and in a tense, semifinal, double hill fight, defeated Powell 9-7.

Minus their respective handicaps, the event finals were a tie. Heeter, though, had to chalk up two more racks than Gonzalez, and when it reached the tie at 7-7, Gonzalez had won.

Tour director Herman Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Gate City Billiards Club for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, BarPoolTables.net, Dirty South Grind Apparel Co., Realty One Group Results, Diamond Brat, AZBilliards.com, and Federal Savings Bank Mortgage Division. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (Feb. 19-20), will be hosted by Borderline Billiards in Bristol, TN.

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Tate and Ringgold split top prizes on Q City 9-Ball Tour

Joey Tate

Stay tuned, but like a lot of pool tours staring at the spectre of empty-by-government-order bars and/or pool rooms, last weekend’s (March 14) Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop may have been its last for a while. The industry, nation-wide, functions on its ability to gather players together for tournaments big and small and with the numbers of what are being called allowable safe groups declining and currently hovering in the 10 or less area, pool tournaments are in serious jeopardy.

At this most recent tournament, junior player Joey Tate (15) and veteran competitor, JT Ringgold battled only once, in a winners’ side semifinal. Tate won that match and though Ringgold won three on the loss side to earn the right to a rematch, they opted out of it. As the undefeated occupant of the hot seat, Tate claimed the event title. The event drew 23 entrants to Mickey Milligan’s in New Bern, NC.

As Ringgold and Tate battled what proved to be the title match in their winners’ side semifinals, Michael Thompson and Ron Sellers battled in the other one. Tate sent Ringgold to the loss side 7-8 (Ringgold racing to 11). Thompson joined Tate in the hot seat match after defeating Sellers 7-3. Tate claimed the hot seat and in effect, the event title 7-5 over Thompson.

On the loss side, Ringgold picked up Ricky Acevedo, who’d defeated Jack Whitfield and Joshua Shultz, both 5-2. Sellers drew Kelly Farrar, who’d recently eliminated Jason Futrell 7-2 and Reene Driskill 7-1.

Ringgold downed Acevedo 11-3 and was joined in the quarterfinals by Sellers, who’d defeated Farrar 5-4 (Farrar racing to 7). Ringgold, picking up some speed in this loss-side campaign shut Sellers out in those quarterfinals.

Thompson applied the brakes to Ringgold’s momentum with a double hill battle in the semifinals. Ringgold won it, though, 11-6 for a second shot against Tate in the hot seat; a shot he didn’t take. He and Tate opted out of the final, split the money and went home.

Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Mickey Milligan’s for their hospitality, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZBilliards, and Tickler Pool Ball Washing Machine. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour is, well . . . up in the air at this point. The Parkers maintain a presence on Facebook, which can be monitored for ongoing information.

Ussery comes from the loss side to win win VA State 10-Ball Championships

(l to r): Reymart Lim, TD Tiger Baker & BJ Ussery

Taylor becomes only 4th woman since 2013 to win VA State Women’s 10-Ball title
 
It’s a little early to start making predictions or get too much of a ‘read’ on a tour’s point standings (at least those that run on a calendar year schedule), but the Action Pool Tour’s second stop provided some intriguing information. It wasn’t so much about who’s in the top spots at this point, but who, among last year’s top players are apparently starting out a little slow. Stop #2 on the Action Pool Tour – the 2020 VA State 10-Ball Open Championships – drew 73 entrants to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA on the weekend of February 15-16. Six of last year’s top 10 players in the tour’s final standings competed in this event. Two finished out of the money, including the event’s defending champion, RJ Carmona. Three, including last year’s tour champion, Chris Bruner, finished in the first money round. Reymart Lim, who finished in 4th place overall last year and won this year’s season opener was this event’s runner-up. In his first appearance on the tour in seven years, BJ Ussery came from the loss side to earn a finals rematch against Lim, which he won to claim the event title.
 
Meanwhile, the 2020 VA State Women’s 10-Ball Championships drew 16 women to the same location. As they did last year, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled twice to claim this title. The results of those two battles were a reverse of last year’s; Atwell, winning the first and Taylor, winning the final (more on this a bit later).
 
Ussery’s appearance on the Action Pool Tour is a reflection of his desire to play generally stronger opponents than those he tends to face on regional handicapped tours. The last time he’d appeared on the APT, he’d finished 7th in the inaugural (2013) VA State 10-Ball Championships.
 
“I’m hoping to play in more of these (APT events) this year,” said Ussery. “I want to play against better players and compete in the some of the bigger events, like the US Open or the Super Billiards Expo.”
 
Any time at table, ultimately, is good time at table, but playing in a handicap system, no matter which one it is, carries a downside. According to Ussery, it’s less about the game and more about human nature.
 
“I get so used to giving up a handicap,” Ussery explained, “that when I get into a non-handicap game, it’s hard for me to bear down.”
 
His opening matches tended to demonstrate this. Ussery opened with an 8-6 win over Reggie Jackson, had a strong 8-1 victory over Jonathan Syphanthavong, and then gave up five against Shorty Davis. He had to win a deciding, 15th game in his fourth match, against Justin Martin. Nathan Childress chalked up six against him next, but Ussery prevailed and advanced to his first meeting against Reymart Lim, in one of the winners’ side semifinals. Lim had downed Barry Mashburn, RJ Carmona, Larry Kressel and shut out Greg Sabins (last year’s #12 in the point standings) to reach Ussery. Shane Wolford and Eric Moore (the APT’s 2016 Tour Champion) squared off in the other one.
 
By identical 8-1 scores, Lim and Wolford advanced to the hot seat match over Ussery and Moore. Lim and Wolford then locked up in a double hill fight that eventually sent Wolford to the semifinals and left Lim in the hot seat.
 
Ussery opened up on the loss side against Mike Davis, who was working on a five-match winning streak that was about to end and had included recent wins over Kelly Farrar 7-3 and Justin Martin 7-2. Moore picked up Scott Roberts, who’d been shut out by Greg Sabins in the second round and was working on his own seven-match, loss-side streak that included a successful 7-5 rematch against Sabins and a 7-5 victory over Nathan Childress, which led to Moore.
 
Ussery ended Davis’ streak 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Roberts, who’d defeated Moore 7-4. Ussery ended Roberts’ streak and Wolford’s short visit to the loss side in the semifinals, both 7-5.
 
Going into the final match, Ussery was mindful not only of the earlier matchup, in which Lim had allowed him only a single rack, but previous matchups, as well. They’d faced each other on a number of occasions over the years, and playing against him, Ussery knew what the difference was.
 
“I knew he was a good player when we’d met before,” said Ussery, “but I knew then, that part of the reason he was beating me was that he’d been putting in the time.”
 
“These days,” Ussery added, “I’m as prepared as anybody.”
 
Ussery spoiled Lim’s bid for a second straight win on the APT. He defeated him 10-8 to claim his first APT title.
 
Taylor spoils Atwell’s bid for a third straight, sixth overall VA State 10-Ball Woman’s title.
 
[photo id=51605|align=right]Since 2013, there have been four women who’ve claimed the VA State Women’s 10-Ball title. Tracie Majors won it in 2014 and Meredith Lynch captured the title in 2017. Janet Atwell has claimed the title five times; once in its inaugural year (2013) and then, back-to-back, twice (’15,’16, ’18, ’19). Last year, Atwell was defeated by Liz Taylor, double hill, in the hot seat match and came back to down Taylor 8-2 in the finals to claim her second straight and fifth overall title.  This year, at the event that drew 16 entrants (one more than last year), they reversed things. Taylor was defeated in the hot seat match and came back to defeat Atwell in the finals and claim the 2020 women’s title.
 
It took them each three matches to meet for the first time in the hot seat match. Atwell got by Nicole King, Tina Nash and, in a winners’ side semifinal, shut out Hayleigh Marion. Taylor defeated Soo Emmett, Christy Norris and, in her winners’ side semifinal, survived a double hill match against Lisa Cossette. Atwell claimed the hot seat 6-1.
 
Taylor’s return faced a stiff challenge from Deeqa Nur, who’d been defeated in the opening round of play by Cheryl Sporleder and came back through five opponents to draw Taylor in the semifinals. Nur battled to double hill against two of those opponents. She picked up Hayleigh Marion, coming over from the winners’ side semifinal and defeated her, just ahead of downing Lisa Cossette in a double hill quarterfinal. Taylor spoiled the strong, loss-side bid 5-3 in the semifinals.
 
And so it was, that for the second year in a row, Liz Taylor and Janet Atwell battled for the State of Virginia’s Women’s 10-Ball title. In a reversal of fortunes, Taylor gave up only one rack to Atwell in claiming the event title 8-1.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards for their hospitality, as well as sponsors Full Stroke Billiards Apparel and Haselman & Hunt, D.D.S., P.C. Family Dentistry. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for March 28-29, will be a Double Points event – The East Coast Landscaping Bar Box Bash – to be hosted by Peninsula Billiards in Newport News, VA.

Mastermaker goes undefeated to win Action Pool Tour stop #11 in Midlothian

Danny Mastermaker & Larry Kressel

In 2013, Danny Mastermaker was everywhere and playing in his best earnings year since AZBilliards began recording his winnings in 2007. He won a stop on the Action Pool Tour and another on the Great Southern Billiard Tour, and cashed in 11 other events, including that year’s VA State 10-Ball Championship (3rd), the George “Ginky” Sansouci Memorial (7th), the Super Billiards Expo’s Amateur Championship (9th), the VA State 9-Ball Championship (9th), the US Open 9-Ball Championships (17th) and Turning Stone XXI (17th).

As he came into stop #11 on this year’s Action Pool Tour, he had only one cash winning to his 2019 credit; he finished 7th at the VA State 10-Ball Championship in February. Mastermaker went undefeated at the Saturday, November 16 10-Ball event to claim his first (recorded) event title since he won the VA State Bar Table 9-Ball tournament in Lynchburg, VA in July, 2014. Oddly enough, Mastermaker downed Larry Kressel in the finals of that bar table 9-ball tournament five years ago and at the Action Pool Tour event this past weekend that drew 30 players to Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA, he defeated Kressel in the finals again.

He got by Kressel twice, actually. Mastermaker got by Zach Gladfelder, Adnan Ahsan and John Wright to draw Kelly Farrar in one of the winners’ side semifinals, as Kressel sent Shane Buchanan, Jason Trigo and Dave Hunt to the loss side and picked up Scott Roberts in the other winners’ side semifinal. Mastermaker dominated his match versus Farrar and sent him to the loss side 8-1, as Kressel sent Roberts over 8-5. In their first of two, Mastermaker prevailed 8-3 over Kressel.

On the loss side, Farrar drew Shane Wolford, who’d lost his opening round match and was working on a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take him all the way to the semifinals. He’d most recently defeated Dave Hunt 7-3 and Chris Bruner 7-1 to arrive at Farrar. Roberts drew Jimmy Bird, the man who’d sent Farrar to the loss side in the opening round. Bird was on a five-match, loss-side streak that was about to come to an end. He’d most recently eliminated John Wright 7-4 and Josh Craig 7-5.

Wolford shut Farrar out, as Roberts ended Bird’s streak 7-3. Wolford then defeated Roberts 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

Kressel put a stop to Wolford’s run in the semifinals by allowing him only a single rack in a race to 7. Kressel earned his second shot at Mastermaker in the hot seat.

Mastermaker had to chalk up one more rack than he had in the hot seat match in the finals’ race to 9. Kressel duplicated his effort in the hot seat match and Mastermaker claimed the event title 9-3.

Tour directors Kim Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Diamond Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis Cloth, Aramith Balls, Brown’s Mechanical LLC, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Ozone Billiards, CSI, Grant Wylie Photography and George Hammerbacher, Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the Action Pool Tour, scheduled for the weekend of December 7-8, will be the Pineapple Morris Memorial Shootout at Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA.

Farrar downs Johnson twice, goes undefeated to win Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour stop

Kelly Farrar

Until the weekend of September 7-8, Kelly Farrar had cashed in only three events on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, finishing 4th twice (both times in May, 2018 and 2019) and 5th once (this past April). In a relatively small field on hand for the tour stop at Brown’s Billiards in Raleigh (18 entrants) this past weekend, he went undefeated to claim his first tour title.
 
He defeated Scott Johnson, also looking for his first tour win, twice to do it. Johnson had only cashed twice previously on the tour, finishing 3rd a little over a month ago (July) and was runner-up to JT Ringgold at a stop in April, 2016.
 
They advanced through the short field to a winners’ side semifinal match. Farrar faced Travis Guerra, as Johnson met up with Gary South. Johnson sent South west 7-3. He was joined in the hot seat match by Farrar, who’d given up only a single rack to Geurra in a 6-1 victory. With Johnson racing to 7, Farrar defeated him double hill (6-6) and sat in the hot seat, awaiting his return.
 
On the loss side, Guerra drew Josh Shultz, who’d defeated Brian Overman 6-4 and Steve Jenkins 6-2 to reach him. South picked up Tanya Parsley, who’d been defeated in the opening round of play by Ricky Dickson and was in the midst of a seven-match, loss-side winning streak that would take her as far as the semifinals. She’d recently shut out Billie Spadafora and defeated David Strum 4-3 (Strum racing to 6).
 
Both matches for advancement to the quarterfinals went double hill, with Guerra downing Shultz 6-5 and Parsley knocking off South 4-6 (South racing to 7). With Guerra racing to 6, Parsley won the quarterfinal match 4-4.
 
Johnson was able to put an end to Parsley’s winning streak in the semifinals, but not before she’d brought him to the brink and forced a 10th and deciding game. Johnson’s 7-3 win gave him a second shot at Farrar in the hot seat. Farrar, though, improved on his hot seat performance with a 6-4 win over Johnson in the finals.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brown’s Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (September 14-15), will be the $500-added North Carolina State 8-Ball Championships ($1,000-added with field of 64), hosted by Randolph’s Billiards in Hickory, NC.

Bennett goes undefeated to capture 5th Annual NC State 9-Ball Championships

Keith Bennett

In the absence of defending champion Reymart Lim and 2015 champion Jeff Abernathy, it was left to former two-time champion Mike Davis (2016, 2017) and last year’s runner-up, Brandon Shuff to carry the flag (so to speak) into the 2019 North Carolina State 9-Ball Open (or Championships, if you prefer). Though Shuff would, for the second year in a row, do battle in the hot seat match, it was Keith Bennett, who finished in the four-way tie for 9th place last year, who claimed the hot seat. Shuff was subsequently denied the opportunity for a second shot at Bennett, when, in the semifinals, he was defeated by Justin Martin, who had lost to Bennett in the third round and won seven on the loss side to face him a second time in the finals. Bennett prevailed in those finals, however, to claim the 2019 NC State 9-Ball title. The $500-added event, held under the auspices of the Viking Cues Q City 9-Ball Tour, drew 41 entrants to Brown’s Billiards in Raleigh on this past Memorial Day weekend (May 25-26).
 
Bennett and Shuff’s only match, battling for the hot seat, followed Bennett’s 7-2 victory over Steve Page and Shuff’s defeat of Kelly Farrar 7-4 in the two winners’ side semifinals. In a double hill hot seat battle, Shuff scratched, shooting at the 7-ball in the deciding game and Bennett closed it out. Shuff, as noted, would not return.
 
On the loss side, where, for a while, Mike Davis, JT Ringgold, BJ Ussery and the 2017 Q City 9-Ball Tour champion Joshua Padron remained in the hunt for a win, Justin Martin continued his steady progress to a re-match versus Bennett in the finals. He chalked up loss-side wins #3 and #4 against Billy Fowler 7-3 and eliminated JT Ringgold, double hill to face Page. Farrar drew Mike Davis, who’d most recently defeated Ussery and Padron, both 7-5.
 
Martin downed Page 7-3 and in the quarterfinals, faced Farrar, who’d survived a double hill fight against Davis. Though Davis had reached the hill first, Farrar rallied to win it. Martin gave up just a single rack to Farrar in the quarterfinals and then spoiled Shuff’s bid for a second appearance in these NC State 9-Ball Open finals, by defeating him, double hill.
 
It was a hard fought battle for the 2019 title that fell a game short of going double hill. Bennett edged out in front at the end to claim the title 9-7.
 
Tour directors Herman and Angela Parker thanked the ownership and staff at Brown’s Billiards, as well as title sponsor Viking Cues, Bar Pool Tables, Delta 13 Racks, AZ Billiards and Professor Q-Ball. The next stop on the Viking Cues’ Q City 9-Ball Tour, scheduled for this weekend (June 1-2) will be a $200-added event, hosted by a new venue on the tour; the Sunrise Saloon & Grill in Greer, SC.

Davis undefeated on Action Pool Tour’s ‘Back to the Beach’ 10-Ball event

(l to r): Mike Davis & Chris Bruner

While it conjures images of pool tables lined up along a sandy beach somewhere, with players in bathing suits, the Action Pool Tour’s 5th stop on the 2019 tour referenced the town’s name, not the beaches that are admittedly nearby. The tour stop, held on the weekend of May 18-19, drew 31 entrants to Q Master Billiards in Virginia Beach, VA. Mike Davis, making his first appearance on the 2019 tour, went undefeated to claim the title, but not before being challenged in the finals by Chris Bruner, who’d been sent to the loss side in the second round of play and won seven in a row for the right to face Davis.
 
As the event progressed from its opening rounds, Davis’ opponents kept getting closer and closer. Davis opened with an 8-1 victory over Anthony Vigliotti, an 8-3 win over Jimmy Bird, and an 8-5 win over Scott Haas to arrive at a winners’ side semifinal against Bernard Andico. Nilbert Lim, in the meantime, got by Ron Zampko 8-3, Keith Bennett 8-5 and survived a double hill match against Mark Lacson to arrive at his winners’ side semifinal match against Kelly Farrar. Farrar, on her way to the matchup against Lim, was responsible for sending Chris Bruner to the loss side, and had also defeated the tour’s #3-ranked player, Steve Fleming.
 
Lim sent Farrar to the loss side and an immediate rematch against Bruner with an 8-3 win, as Davis sent Andico over 8-5. In the battle for the hot seat, Lim was able to chalk up more racks against him than any of his previous opponents, Davis prevailed to claim the hot seat 8-6.
 
On the loss side, Farrar ran into Bruner, four matches into his seven-match, loss-side streak, which had most recently resulted in the elimination of JR Avery 7-3 and Scott Haas 7-5. Andico picked up the tour’s #2-ranked competitor RJ Carmona, who, like Bruner had been defeated in the second round of play (by Scott Haas) and was in the midst of his own five-match, loss-side winning streak. Bruner and Carmona were about to meet in the quarterfinals.
 
Carmona got there with a 7-2 win over Andico and was joined by Bruner, who’d ended Farrar’s weekend 7-4. Bruner then ended Carmona’s loss-side streak 7-5 in that quarterfinal match.
 
Bruner completed his loss-side run with a 7-3 win over Lim in the semifinals. Davis completed his undefeated run with a 10-5 victory over Bruner in the finals.
 
A Second Chance drew eight entrants. It was won by Kelly Cox, who defeated Steve Fleming in the finals 7-5.
 
Tour directors Kris Wylie and Tiger Baker thanked the ownership and staff at Q Master Billiards, as well as sponsors Predator Cues, Viking Cues, Simonis, Aramith, Kamui, Diamond Billiard Products, Cue Sports International (CSI), Chix Cabinets Direct, Grant Wylie (professional photographer), Brown’s Mechanical, LLC, and George Hammerbacher Advanced Pool Instructor. The next stop on the APT, scheduled for the weekend of June 15-16, will be the Brown’s Mechanical 9-Ball Open, hosted by Diamond Billiards in Midlothian, VA.